We’re all living in trying times right now with COVID-19. Many kids will be frightened, so here are some ways to talk to them about the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus (or COVID-19) has the world in a state of unease and uncertainty—you don’t need us to tell you that.
You also don’t need a bunch of statistics hurled at you because, frankly, they’ll be out of date five minutes after we publish this article and, even more importantly, we’re all anxious enough as it is.
This situation is new to everyone and we all know it could present any number of outcomes over the coming months.
But we’re adults and, as much as we can in a world of misinformation, we understand what is happening. We can comprehend why people are panic-buying; we can appreciate why some people choose to wear masks; we realise that our day-to-day lives are suddenly so different.
But what about our children? For many kids, they may be experiencing extreme anxiety and confusion about what is currently happening in the world.
Young children especially don’t have the knowledge or the real-world experience to know what is going on. Whereas older and school-age children will be hearing differing accounts through friends, teachers and social media—and won’t be able to avoid news reports on TV and the craziness in supermarkets aisles.
While we want to protect them from it all, with something that is so prominent it’s best to have a frank and open discussion.
Start with a question
The best way to approach the situation is with a question that allows children to express their thoughts straight away.
“Do you know what’s happening in the world right now?” “Have you heard of the coronavirus?” “Do you know what it is?” “Are your friends at school talking about it?” “Have you seen anything posted on YouTube or Tik Tok about it?” “What do you think about it all?”
Whatever the question is, keep it simple, straightforward and calm. Then you’ve already got a dialogue going and you can react accordingly.
Keep the conversation relaxed
The whole situation may already be scary enough for children without us conveying our own trepidation to add fuel to the fire.
Being honest with kids about what is really happening is imperative. But there is no point in using scare tactics around hand-washing or enforcing extreme levels of ‘social distancing’.
Explain to them it’s a new kind of sickness that people in the world haven’t had before. For some, it will be just like a cold, but others may become a lot sicker and there’s no medicine to make these people better yet.
Reassure them the great news is that all the doctors, nurses and scientists are working around the clock all over the world to fix the situation so we can all get back to normal life.
Tell them the reason they might not be able to see their grandparents or other older relatives for a little while is just to keep everyone protected from this new virus so they stay strong and healthy.
And a big one that may be worrying children is the more obvious use of face masks in the community. You can tell them it’s just a way that everyone is looking out for each other—but reassure them that only people who have any kind of cold symptoms should be using them.
Also, when you’re having an ‘adult conversation’ about it with a partner or friend, make sure your kids aren’t around.
As you well and truly know, children absorb everything! So, talking about the stark realities of the situation in front of little ones is only going to have a greater impact on their anxieties. Keep it real but keep it calm.
Educate about washing hands
By now, the tips as to how to correctly wash your hands have been communicated over and over: use soap, rinse thoroughly, always use hand sanitiser where possible, and so on.
But for children, they need a ‘why’—as any parent who has ever been stuck in a game of “But, why?” can attest.
Why do they have to wash their hands? Why should they be avoiding touching their faces? Why will doing these things help prevent the spread of the virus?
And so with all this ‘why’, just telling may not be enough to convey the message. It may be a classic case of ‘learn by doing’. Below is a perfect little video that will explain just how important it is for them to keep their digits clean. We’ll let it speak for itself.
Most importantly, stay safe
Stuck On You knows the world around us has become quite a surreal place for all of us in recent weeks.
Look after your family and others around you by following all the health guidelines we’re being provided. By being vigilant and looking out for one another, we’ll all get through this together.
If you have any other great tips for how to talk to children about the coronavirus, then let us know in the comment section below.